Fantasy Hockey Poll: Biggest Beneficiaries of Linemates

Rick Roos

2022-01-26

First off, stick tap to Dobber, as one of his Holiday Ramblings gave me the idea for this poll. If you read that edition of the Ramblings, it's about players succeeding to a large extent – or, arguably, to any extent at all – due to fortunate circumstances, namely their linemates or their defensive pairing. I figured I'd put together a list of 20 of these lucky duck players and vote on which ones have it best, as in who are the biggest of these beneficiaries.

First off, a player being listed here doesn't necessarily mean he lacks talent in his own right. The idea is these are players whose production is being boosted due to the skater(s) with whom they play on a regular basis. Your task is to vote for the five biggest beneficiaries, which should be the five you believe would have the most negative effect on their scoring rate if suddenly they were no longer deployed as they've been so far this season. Since all 20 of the voting choices are skaters, the sole criteria on which to base your votes should be points.

With that out of the way, here are the 20 players, listed in alphabetical order. The link to cast your votes is at the end of the column.

Ivan Barbashev – From a player whose scoring rate had been in the 20s and 30s his entire career to now a 65+ point player? Something smells fishy, and it's not just his high SH%. Instead, it likely has to do with him holding down a spot in the potent St. Louis top-six thus far this season. Barbashev's IPPs are pretty decent, so he isn't just a pure passenger; but it's difficult to envision, given his past outputs and the type of game he plays, that his success isn't largely a by-product of his linemates.

Sam Bennett – Granted he's not producing anywhere near the rate he did after arriving at the end of last season. Still though, Bennett has played regularly with Jonathan Huberdeau, who's arguably a top ten if not top five forward in today's NHL. Yes, Bennett has the pedigree of being a former top draft pick and still is young enough to do well in his own right; however, one has to think he's bolstered by sharing the ice for the most part with Huberdeau.

Michael Bunting – If you look at the list of Bunting's most frequent linemates this season, it's all top Toronto forwards. Yet still he's not producing better than he did in limited action for the lowly Coyotes last season. Fortunately for him, Nick Ritchie didn't work out and Ondrej Kase is still very much a Band-Aid Boy, making it likely that Bunting will be able to stay tethered to the best of the best in Toronto. If he wasn't though, it's hard to imagine his point total not cratering.

Matt Duchene – It used to be to get the best from Duchene he had to be playing for a new deal, but this season he's just doing great without free agency on the horizon. Why might that be? Playing with Filip Forsberg and